Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities

‘Family stories: the relationship between narrator and listener’ Seminar

The Centre for Transnational Studies
17:00 - 18:30
22 March 2017
65/1177 Avenue Campus University of Southampton SO17 1BF

For more information regarding this seminar, please email Dr Heidi Armbruster at .

Event details

Our 2016-17 seminar series revolves around ‘moving stories’. As students of societies, histories and cultures we often engage stories in order to understand and analyse our subject: life narratives; oral histories; personal and collective memories; material-object stories; poems; novels; visual narratives; music; art; media texts… and more. In the series we explore questions about the use of stories for researching and mediating mobile worlds.

‘I believe that there is no more real or more realistic way of exploring communication in general than by focussing on the simultaneously practical and theoretical problems that emerge from the particular interaction between the investigator and the person being questioned.’ P. Bourdieu ‘The Weight of the World: Social Suffering in Contemporary Society’ (1999, p.607)

The sociologist Pierre Bourdieu reminds us that, although the research relationship is different from other exchanges in everyday life because its objective is pure knowledge, it remains nevertheless a social relationship.

I have invited Henrietta Nleya, a key participant in my doctoral research on the impact of Zimbabwe’s migrant families, to have a conversation with me about our ‘particular interaction’ and the relationship we built.

The nature of transnational family research means that I relied on Henrietta not only to tell me her own life story, but also to introduce me to relatives living in Zimbabwe and South Africa. This presented us both with practical and ethical challenges for, although together in Southampton we had time to establish a shared history and ties of trust, I arrived at the homes of her parents and siblings as a prying stranger. And although I guaranteed anonymity in my thesis, I was conscious that family members would have no difficulty recognising each other – with the potential for hurt feelings and even resentment.

This conversation will be the start of an open discussion on relationship-building in the research process, in which you are invited to present questions and problems that have arisen in your own research.




Speaker information

Jenny Cuffe, University of Southampton. Jenny completed a MA in Transnational Studies. Jenny successfully defended her PhD thesis on 13 January 2017. Her thesis is entitled ‘ The Impact of Zimbabwe’s ‘crisis’ on three transnational families situated in Zimbabwe, South Africa and the United Kingdom’.

Privacy Settings